If there’s one thing you should do when you visit Sri Lanka, it’s taking a trip to the emerald-green tea estates, high up in the mountains.
After a scenic six-hour train ride from Kandy, through lush green hills, past waterfalls and views of Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada – Sri Lanka’s tallest mountain that stands 2,244m above sea level, we arrived in the hillside town of Haputale.
Each day the many hard-working tea pickers set out to nimbly and quickly pluck the young leaves, tossing them into big nylon sacks tied to the tops of their heads, each hauling in around 18kg a day for the surrounding tea factories. It’s a tough gig working in the hot sun but the incentives are high – the harder you work, the more you get paid.
During March through to June the young leaves are abundant and during the dry season when there are less tea leaves to pick, naturally the price of tea increases.
A guided tour through Dambetenna tea factory was a fascinating insight into how tea is made, going through the many processes from plantation to tea cup.
The tea leaves are dried, rolled, cut, sifted, fermented and dried again. 1kg of fresh tea leaves only makes 240g of ready-to-drink tea.
Before lunch we took a walk through the hillside tea plantations, to the southern edge of Hill Country, to enjoy a home-cooked meal with a Tamil family.
Our group huddled into the small and simple family kitchen to watch mother and daughter prepare fresh batches of paratha (flatbread), idli (soft savoury cake) and vadai (crunchy dahl fritters) – what I discovered to be some of my favourite snacks to enjoy in Sri Lanka.
After feasting on snacks, dhal and curries, we said many thanks and farewells to our gracious hosts, with the shy and very beautiful daughter posing for what turned out to be one of my favourite photos of the trip.
She was incredibly stunning and her impeccable outfit made for the perfect shot against the doorway of their bright and colourful home in the hills.
To see more of this visit, click on the photo below to view the Flickr album.
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